Gopher Canyon Ride Report

Mary Lane. Summit, Jesmond Dene, Old 395, Gopher Canyon, West Lilac & Wohlford Loop-Saturday, 3 January 2015

by Rob Verfurth


It was the first Descenders group ride of the year. We had a fairly small turn-out in the sunny but cold (for San Diego standards) morning. I turned into the North County Mall parking lot only a minute before the planned start of 8 am. It was 38 degrees and I had three Ranchos riders turning into the parking area just ahead of me, hardy boys.

As I pulled over to our parking area, I saw a handful of bundled up riders. The group included Rick B and his ElliptiGO, Oleg, Rick W, Bryan Taylor, Larry and Bob P. I hustled to get ready but everyone seemed ok with waiting for the temperature to rise a bit more. I looked around and saw the handful of "Team A" riders, then me and Bob. I was glad to have Bob there and told him we would sweep all day.

We rolled out for Mary Lane, cold, but hopeful that the sun would warm us and the day. Rick B cruised along "riding" his ElliptiGO and keeping up the pace, easily. Bob P and I swept as we made our way along Summit. After crossing Highway 78, Bob P stopped to try to fix his rear wheel. He had been experiencing some shifting issues. We had the maintenance team of Rick and Oleg trying to assist Bob. It was determined that Bob and his broken bike would have to abandon. Wait, that left me alone with 5 stud riders; it was going to be a long day.

We rode along Summit Road and I managed to stay close enough to the group. There were lights and stop signs that offered more opportunities to keep up. We rode along Citrus to Bear Valley and turned left at El Norte Parkway. The speed picked up with Rick W and Bryan pushing the pace.. Rick B cruised along and I hung on for as long as I could. We turned onto Ash, cut through the neighborhood and rode toward Jesmond Dene.

The climb up hurt. I do not think Bryan & Rick W know how fast they were pushing the pace. Oleg and Larry rolled right along with them. I fell back but fortunately was able to catch up to the wheel of the ElliptiGO and follow Rick to the top. You have to be real careful following an ElliptiGO wheel-parts of the machine extend out about a foot past the wheel. Rick pulled me to the top and we turned onto Old 395. The group was waiting at the light and some wanted to remove a jacket layer. I saw this as my chance to get ahead before we hit Gopher Canyon. I cruised north and waited for the rest of the guys at the turn. They all quickly blew by me on the first big hill of Gopher Canyon. I burned a few more matches trying to close the gap. On some of the rolling hills I was able to get back onto the wheel of Rick B just before the turn to Little Gopher Canyon, where the other guys were waiting. We cruised together to Old River Road and turned onto West Lilac after merging with Camino del Ray. This is about a 5 mile climb back to I-15. I quickly faded and kept turning over the pedals knowing they would be waiting for me at the top.

The day was warming nicely and the time was getting late, so we had decided to skip Couser. We all rolled over the Lilac Bridge and headed back towards Valley Center. The five A-Teamers disappeared while I to struggled to keep pace. They were kind enough to wait for me at every big intersection. At Valley Center, Rick W had to head back home while the rest of us turned onto Woods Valley. Bryan, Oleg and Larry pulled while Rick kept up a nice pace and I hid behind his wheel. I somehow managed to stay with the guys through the descent of Lake Wohlford. We all cruised along Bear Valley, where there were enough stops to keep me in the game.

We finally finished back at the mall. We rode 60 miles and about 4,100 feet of climbing. Bryan continued to ride down Pomerado to get to home, Oleg and Larry loaded up their bikes in the car and I shared with Rick the last of my water. He refueled and kept riding his ElliptiGO another 18 miles. I was done, limped home and skipped the Sunday coffee ride. It was a great first ride of the year. We have already had many more. Look forward to the next planned ride on Saturday-Elfi Forest & Double Peak.

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